Monday, August 29, 2011

Read-A-Thon Overview

Well, here is the tally: 1 full book (Dark Taste of Rapture); the end of "Awaken Me Darkly"; two chapters of "The Word and the Void"; and two chapters of the Sookie Stackhouse book #1.

All things considered, I'm not disappointed. I am a single mother of twins and have a full-time job, so there wasn't much time to spend on books regardless. And I took the twins to the zoo on Saturday which sucked up 3.5 hours at the zoo and 3 hours just driving to and from the zoo.

Now I can settle back and take my time with the rest of the books I have stacked around the house awaiting my attention.

And, I can get back to writing. In a couple of days I will share my thoughts of the muse Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. I may put in some time on my historical romance rewrite or get back to the intimate scene in my paranormal investigator novel. Only time will tell what I feel like digging into.

I do know my physical activity level for awhile will be low. I currently have a severe case of tennis elbow. I must have just been overdoing the lifting at work and at home, so now I am paying the piper. This is a first for me, so if I'm whining a little too much, don't worry, the next time I get it my comments on it will be abbreviated to a byline.

Happy Monday, Readers!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 4 of Read-A-Thon

Day 4 of the Read-A-Thon: I gave up on the behemoth. Sorry, Mr. Brooks. I love your Landover series and could polish those off without chewing, but your "The Word and the Void" book takes a lot more chewing than I'm willing to put into a Read-a-Thon.

So, I purchased "Dark Taste of Rapture" on my way home from a seminar yesterday. I'm already on page 195. This is the third day it has been available to the public and I'm loving every word.

I just got the Sookie book from a friend at work. That book will be after my current obsession.

Summary: 1.5 books read

After the Read-A-Thon, I will be posting on the Muse, Terpsichore. She is the muse of Dance.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Read-A-Thon Update and Musings on Muses Part II

Well, I finished "Awaken Me Darkly" by Gena Showalter on Monday at 9:25pm. I didn't get the Sookie book, but I will have it tomorrow. So I don't lose momentum on this, I picked up a behemoth of a book called "The Word and the Void" by Terry Brooks that I had started. I managed to read a chapter - which took me from page 41 to page 48 of a 600+ page book. I'm beginning to think if I don't stick to the 300-400 page books, I'm not going to get very far at all in this read-a-thon.

Now onto the musings portion: I think I'm being stalked by them. Once the word got out I was writing about them, they're everywhere I turn! Well, I'm exaggerating just a tiny bit, but it still feels a little strange. I have been on a newletter list with Funds for Writers for a couple of years now and suddenly a new e-publishing company was advertising in the latest e-newsletter I received in my inbox. Guess what it was called. Musa Publishing. So, I thought it would be smart to start stalking, er rather, following them since the Muses feel obligated to let me know they are watching me.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon

Ok, I signed up for this yesterday. As my first goal, I hope to finish "Awaken me Darkly" by Gena Showalter for tomorrow. I'm currently on page 244 of 358. Then I should have the first book of the Sookie series from a friend that I intend to read over the new two to three days. I'll keep everyone posted on if I will finish that one by the end of this Read-A-Thon. Until then, I'm going to watch the last two episodes of True Blood Season 2. Happy Sunday!

Musings about Muses - Polyhymnia

I sat in church today, mulling over an article about music during writing as a topic, mostly reviewing my research about the muses. In Greek mythology, Polyhymnia was (or is) the muse of hymns. I sing hymns every Sunday morning when I attend church. I wondered about the Christian church and how it would view a Greek demigoddess as the source of their music. Then, I realized, she would be the source of all religious music regardless of religion because that was what a hymn was - the musical embodiment of faith.

Imagine. A Greek demigoddess just embodied a concept that crosses ancient belief structures that have been in contention for nearly as long as they existed. Well, mainly among a few, anyway. Every church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc. that has any music of any form would have the spirit of Polyhymnia within their walls. I know Muslims don't necessarily have singing in their mosques, but I have heard the Call to Prayer before. The way it is intoned it vibrates similarly to song. Hindu, Native American, Pagan, and other religious faiths have some form of music involved in their worship. "Hymn" does not strictly apply to a book of songs one finds in a church. It is wherever musical vibrations are used to gain closeness, acceptance, even the attention of one's own chosen deity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blood Hunt by Shannon K. Butcher - A Review

This is the most recent addition to the Sentinel Wars series by Shannon K. Butcher and it takes a different path than the previous books.

Logan is a Sanguinar, a vampiric healer, who helps the Theronai against the evil Synestryn. He finds a woman who has power. Hope has powers, but she doesn't have a past. Can Logan help her find out who she is and where she came from?

For more about this book, go here.

I love the newest addition to Shannon K. Butcher's series. Hope seems like a heroine in need of a hero, but she amazes herself and Logan when she is the one swooping in to save the day. I can't get enough of a strong woman role.

I also enjoyed the mystery that doesn't get solved until much, much later in the book. Who is she? Where is she from? Will she be in Logan's arms or a dying Theronai? Butcher keeps us guessing and reading.

The ongoing stories continue as well and keep you wondering where they will be in the next installment of the series. The Slayers are becoming more defined and you actually get a number of action scenes with the Solarc's Wardens - wow! I even feel like some foreshadowing is going on with the Slayers, the Sanguinar, and Sibyl you won't want to miss.

Not least of all the romantic scenes. Pages and pages worth of steamy details are waiting within this book's pages.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Just a Tuesday Update

It has been some time since my last blog. I apologize for anyone reading and waiting. I've been busy trying to be diligent in my writing. I'm trying to get at least two pages written (yes, I'm still using the old fashion paper and pen method) every day. Part of the reason this is so time consuming is because I have been writing my first intimate scene. I've had to stop and go back to books I loved to read and get to their intimate scenes and see how the author's pulled me in and see how I would have written the scene - a little advice I gathered from reading up on author blogs and pages (Thanks, Gena!). I'm hoping this scene will be intense and not too wordy or repetitive like its sounding so far. Could be the result of spending too much time on it. ;)

Now the story about the photo I selected. When I was living in a trailer park, there was a thunderstorm that was raging outside as I was getting my children ready for bed. I went to the window to see how bad it was looking outside when this little frog suctioned to my window at first startled me. The girls ran over to see what caused me to gasp and we all started laughing. I took several pictures of it, but this one turned out the best. And, no, he's not really that neon green. This photo is one of my experiments with Google Picasa. I narrowed it down to just him where it was a photo of a smaller him in a giant window. Then I played with the colors. It was kind of fun to play around with it. I haven't done that sort of thing since my online roleplaying days. And I'm still not as exceptional at it as many people I roleplayed with in those days. Guess I'll just stick with the written word.

Speaking of diligence, I'm also trying to find time to write an essay for a writing contest. Funds for Writers has an annual writing contest and the theme this year is Diligence. From all the blogs I read up on, it tends to be a common theme. It's also a theme at my day job, and at home its desperately needed to be implemented. Good thing I have until October 31st, but as one author I've been following (Karen Mahoney) blogged, better to give yourself an earlier deadline to make sure you have something on time.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A shout out to a couple of my faves

Both the blog, Under the Covers, and one of my favorite authors, Gena Showalter, will be getting a great shout out from me. I'm borrowing this button from Under the Covers and you can click on it to find out what I'm loving today from them.

The photos they selected for Reyes and Amun are exactly what I would have picked from reading Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series. Gena, I can't wait for more Kane. I'm looking forward to his appearances in the next two books and soak it all up just to beg you for more. I'm glad you're planning on a spin off from this series. I may have withdrawal symptoms once the series is all done. Bummer there isn't more lords hiding out somewhere. Keep writing! I love your work!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Get the Word Out

Get The Word Out!

This past week, dozens of Writing Etc. subscribers asked, "OK. I
love writing. But how do I get PAYING assignments!?!?"

Depending on where you live, landing those paying jobs may not be
as hard as you think. The secret is to start small and build from

As many of you already know, I began my illustrious writing career
covering local city council and school board meetings. That job
alone gave me more clips than I knew what to do with. And earning
$50 to $75 for an evening's work wasn't bad for either. (Read
"Clipless" in the Writing Etc. archives for a complete article
about how to break into this local market.)

Armed with your local clips, you can start approaching bigger
markets. Markets like small and mid-sized magazines that are
hungry for new articles. With the good name you've cultivated in
your community, (you did get a byline for your city council
articles, right?) you can also start writing for local businesses.

Writing for businesses (otherwise known as copywriting) is one of
the best ways to make a living wage as a writer. Depending on the
market, you can reasonably expect to earn $30 - $50 per hour as a

So how do you pick up commercial clients? Easy. Good writers are
in demand, especially as the economy softens. Business clients
need writers that get results. And if your copywriting pulls in
responses, you'll get work.

To start attracting commercial clients, you can run a small ad in
your local paper. As your expertise increases, place more ads in
surrounding papers. Maybe you'll want to write a snappy classified
ad in the business section.

Another way to get business clients is to join your Chamber of
Commerce. You'll meet the movers and shakers in your community and
make invaluable contacts.

Send out a direct mail piece. I use a quarterly newsletter and it
never fails to turn up something. You can write a snappy sales
letter complete with reply form and buckslip, or you can keep it

If you have nerves of steel, you can call perspective clients -
otherwise known as "cold calling clients." I don't have nerves of
steel and have never done that - yet. I don't rule anything out
until I've tried it once. If you have nerves of steel, go for it
and let me know how it goes. I've heard this is the best way to
get clients but I couldn't say one way or another. I'm a weenie
when it comes to cold calling....

Another technique to keep the money rolling in as a freelance
writer is to have lots of irons in the fire. Along with the
magazine queries, and copywriting, I always have a book in the
works and am busy sending out proposals for it.

Make goals each day. Decide how many queries you'll send out.
Decide how many sales letters you'll mail. How many words are you
going to write in your book?

The possibilities are endless. That's why this job is so great.
Find out what works for you and then run with it. You just may
find yourself making a nice living.


Want more info on promoting your writing and making a living as a
writer? Go here:


This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing
sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing
Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book "Power

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Partial Chapter in a Historical Christian Romance I started writing at 19

This is an excerpt of a historical, Christian romance I am re-writing. Let me know what you think and if I need to do anything to clean it up. Have I got your attention and desire to read more? Feedback from an audience would be very welcome.

Darkness had fallen and men moved along the forest shadows just outside the open grounds of a new farming settlement. The ground was still raw from the men who cleared it to make room for their little houses and long fields – soon to be planted with wheat and corn. Fifteen men watched the soft glow of the houses and stables, waiting for the fires to burn out or to be extinguished. Not long before this happened, a rider approached the settlement alone and stayed behind the stables so anyone moving from the house to the stables could not spy them. Many of the pairs of eyes gleamed with greed as they watched the beautiful white mare prance beside her rider after the small slip of a person slid down and quietly removed the tack from the animal. The hood of the cloak the rider wore slid off as the heavy fall of chestnut waves became too much for the material to contain. Several of the watchers began shifting restlessly.

A single man was on the far side of the settlement opposite the fifteen men and scouting for signs of just how many people can be expected inside the houses. He looked up when a woman led a white mare around the side of the stables, then gave it hand signals to stay while she quickly slipped inside the stables. The white mare obeyed and waited for her rider, passively. Muskogizek felt his heart jerk painfully in his chest. He knew that rider. Fear for the woman caused him to silently abandon his mission to get closer to that side of the stables. His eyes darted around for signs of a companion. He was about to move closer, but ducked down when the woman returned to coax the horse into the stables.

Muskogizek moved along the line of trees parallel to the stables, working his way toward the direction the woman rode in from. The signs confirmed she was traveling alone. But, why? It was too dangerous for a woman of her breeding to be traveling alone, especially with the war going on now between the British and the French. While the Great Lakes region was not directly affected, conflicts at the posts and the routing of British settlements, as well as the local animal threats, was enough to make travel dangerous for a lone woman.

He was so absorbed in the tale the signs were telling him, that he did not notice the woman return to a small camp she made behind the stables. He did notice when she made a small fire to heat a small pot of tea over. She was so well-versed in making a fire with so little smoke; no one at the settlement would have noticed someone camped behind their stables. However, the small light the fire gave off was noticed by fifteen pairs of eyes in the woods surrounding the settlement.

Muskogizek could see their shadows shifting through the trees as they grouped together to plan. He noticed they were changing their plans as they spread out again, focusing more on the lone woman than the settlement. They were not even going to wait for him to return from scouting. It became clear to Muskogizek what their intentions were and he vowed to God he would stop them or die trying.

Occasionally an owl or a snort from the nearby stables would break the silence, even the insects didn’t stir at this hour. That was when the young, orphaned British woman that slept so soundly under the stars was awakened by a stirring behind her in the woods. Wolves? No, couldn’t be, she would see glowing eyes blinking at her through the darkness. It must be men. Indians, maybe? As she tried to see through the darkness, her hand slipped under her bed roll and grasped at the cold metal of her father’s pistol. She shivered, brought the covers up around her shoulders more, and watched the shadows move from tree to tree. She sent up a prayer for courage and cocked the pistol.

She thought for sure she would be safer near a farming settlement than deeper into the woods. Abandoned the first night of her journey back to New York, she was determined to continue on. She couldn’t go back. There was nothing for her back there.

Tension fell upon the night as thick as the fast moving clouds. The British woman watched the clouds and wondered if it might storm tomorrow. As she contemplated over the weather, a large dark cloud covered the sky like a blanket. Under the protection of the additional darkness, the creatures in the woods became more bold and ventured closer to the British woman.

Muskogizek crouched with a long spear he fashioned from a nearby branch. In his other hand was a dagger given to him as a gift from a commanding officer at Fort Michilimachinaw. He waited for the men in the forest to make their move. Why they hesitated for so long, he couldn’t tell, but he was certain they knew she would resist or they wouldn’t wait for her to put out the fire and lay down on her bed room to sleep.

The darkness deepened and Muskogizek looked up to see the cloud cover blotted out any light from the stars. The shadows in the tree line started to move again. Muskogizek’s heart was racing and all of his muscles bunched in anticipation of the fight that would begin soon.

The first man to break into the clearing had a crooked nose. He was tall, muscled, but not hugely and had a shock of brown hair that continually fell into his eyes. The man’s eyes were wide with hunger and Muskogizek began to see red with the rage that overwhelmed him. Without being consciously aware he had made the decision, Muskogizek shot out quickly and silently from the tree line on an intercept course. Unfortunately, he was further away and didn’t leave quickly enough. The man had landed on top of the woman who screamed, inciting an owl to screech in protest. The scream was cut off by the man’s hand, while the other hand groped the woman, trying to pull her skirts up.

Muskogizek ran right up to the man and kicked him flat-footed in the face. The man’s head snapped back and a couple of teeth dropped out of his mouth as he rolled off the woman in a stupor. Two men came in from either direction at Muskogizek. He spun, flinging out the spear to hit the man to his right with the butt of his spear in his solar plexus, then the tip of the spear slicked across the cheek of the man to his left.

Four men took their place and hesitated when they realized they were attacking their own scout.

“You will not touch her,” he told them in French.

They shifted, then one elbowed his friend with a grin. “He wants her for himself,” he told his friend.

Muskogizek’s face was fierce, but he did not reply. The men chuckled. They began to walk non-aggressively toward the woman, lying in shock on the ground and panting while one of her hands felt blindly around her bed roll. “You will be last after what you did to Antonne, Paris, and Jean,” one of the men said.

Two of the men lunged at Muskogizek to hold him while the other two lunged at the woman who tired to claw at their faces. They laughed, batted her hands away, tore off her cloak, and pulled at the bodice of her dress until you could hear the material rendering. She kicked and bit at them while Muskogizek fought the men trying to disarm and hold him.

Muskogizek stopped watching what was happening to the woman for a moment and focused on the two men trying to hold him. He wrenched free from one man’s grip on his arm and threw the dagger into the other man’s boot. He went down with a scream while Muskogizek brought the heel of his now free hand up into the nose of the first man, breaking his nose.

The women let out a brief scream which was cut off at the sound of flesh hitting flesh. Muskogizek turned quickly to see the woman crumple at the feet of a man just withdrawing his fist from a blow. The woman’s dress was off completely, leaving her only in a chemise, corset and petticoats. With a roar, he rammed into the man who delivered the blow that rendered her unconscious, knocking them both to the ground so he was straddling the man’s chest and punching him repeatedly until the man stopped moving beneath him. Slowly, he stood, blood dripping from his knuckles, and turned to the man still holding the shredded remains of the woman’s dress. The man was looking around at all of his fallen companions, realization suddenly dawning on him at just how dire his circumstances were. His panicked gaze flew to Muskogizek who was stalking toward the man who lifted the torn dress before him as though it would act as a shield against the Indian. Muskogizek picked up the spear and sent it whirling through the air for a side blow to the temple, knocking the man down. Muskogizek jumped on the man’s back, putting the spear against the man’s trachea.

Muskogizek leaned in to the gasping man to put his lips close to his ear. “That was her favorite dress,” he growled and shifted his weight to deliver the killing thrust, but the spear was ripped from his hands.

He was grabbed from behind and dragged to his feet. A man better dressed than the rest stepped in front of Muskogizek. “You are under arrest for treason. We’ll take you back to the post for sentencing.” The man looked at the unconscious woman and demanded from the rest of his men, “Bring her.”

As men bent to pick her up, Muskogizek pulled free of the men holding him and pushed them away. He scooped the woman up into his arms and faced the men watching him. “Only I will touch her. She will stay confined with me and only I will attend to her.” Then, he began walking back to the horses tethered in the trees deeper in the woods. No one challenged him.

Please take note that this is my own work from my own imagination. All characters are purely fictional and any resemblance in any way to anyone is merely coincidental. Any copying and redistribution of this material will also fall within copyright infringement.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Going Out Times Two: A comparison of two summer trips with two-year-old twins

As a working mom, I find it difficult to arrange for time to have outings with my growing children so they can experience and explore the world. For instance, this year I wanted desperately to have a trip to the beach with my two-year-old twins and another family. We planned the date and time, my husband arranged to have the day off, and everything was working out smoothly until the weather decided to be unusually cold and rainy for August. We had to revise our plans so we didn’t waste the day; however, the other family also had a last minute family emergency so it was just my husband and I along with our twin girls.

Earlier in the summer, we arranged for a day at the zoo. It ended up being an hour at the zoo and two and a half hours total driving to and from the zoo. The Petting Coral had a limited amount of animals for my children to enjoy petting. In fact, it was just a pen full of goats. The goats were much bigger than my girls were, so neither of the girls wanted to touch the animals. In fact, one of my twins simply ran around in the pen and looked over the animals with scientific curiosity – which is a huge feat for a two-year-old – and the other twin refused to leave the safety of her father’s arms. The budgie atrium was a little more successful. The shy twin who wanted to stay in her father’s arms refused to even come into the atrium to see the birds until I’ve been inside the atrium with the other twin for a good ten minutes – and she still refused to leave her father’s arms. The other twin ran around peering into the faces of the colorful birds, chatting up the other children in the atrium, and – much to her mother’s dismay – nearly stomped one poor bird looking for some seeds to nibble on.

The aquarium held the interest of both girls a lot better than the first two stops. They thoroughly enjoyed watching the penguins waddle and swim in the water and exclaimed over the fish, sharks, and brightly colored starfish. The entire walk through the aquarium was with the girls fastened safely in their tandem double stroller. They didn’t seem to mind, which was a blessing, but it also required my husband and I to keep the momentum and interest going or complaints started coming from the stroller that would echo loudly around the enclosed space and alerted the other patrons of our disgruntled children.

Next, we walked past Monkey Island. It was a warm, humid day so the monkeys were more interested in hanging out than doing fun acrobatics in the nets and trees on their island to entertain our children. We were separated from the island by a moat – for lack of a better term – and the girls could hardly see the black-furred monkeys as they lounged in their enclosure. After that disappointment, we moved on to the African and South American animals. My husband was excited to see the wild boars that are native to his country, Mali. The girls were not very interested, but again they were in the stroller that was much lower than the tall grasses and fencing around the boar enclosure. They were much more excited to see the lone tiger in its glass pen. It seemed to be excited to see us, too. Golden eyes bright, the tiger would pace back and forth in its pen and rub its cheek against the glass, leaving a trail of slobber behind. The petting pen for pygmy goats was far too stinky to encourage us to stop and the camel was impressively tall, which did little to entice the girls to ride it. There was only one lioness who didn’t look pleased to see us, then it was time to go.

The second trip toward the end of summer was at a children’s museum in Allegan County, Michigan. It was a small museum that had educational and cultural activities for children ages 1 to 12. They also have special events on weekends with themes from clowns to Star Wars. There was less driving to this outing and we went earlier in the day since the museum closes down at 5pm. This trip replaced the trip to the beach because of the unusual weather.

The girls felt comfortable enough at the museum to go running in and dip their fingers right into all the new toys and activities available to them. In fact, once we let them lose, it took them a couple of minutes to figure out what they wanted to try first. There were colored shapes that they could fit into an easel to help children match shapes and colors. They plucked up the pieces from their container and ran around with them for awhile until they found the firefighters hats and put those on. That gave me a photo opportunity I couldn’t pass up. There was a fire engine to go with the hats, so we sat them in it and I took several photos. Then, they moved past the mirrors that made you thin, fat, short, tall, and wavy to enter the music section. We spent a good time there banging away on the xylophones.

Then, my taller twin found a wheeled circle with a seat in it, so I helped her try it while her sister continued to pound on the xylophone. She sat down and put her feet up on the bar and I showed her how to grasp the handles on the wheels and helped her to move the wheels. That was fun for her for all of one minute, and then she was quite done. So I had to chase her all the way back toward the front of the museum where she discovered a table full of sand with shovels and cool toys that would do different things as the sand flowed through them. The other twin soon joined us and sand was flying everywhere. I managed to get a few more pictures before all of us were feeling gritty with sand. Who needs the beach? This sand was not wet, did not have any…surprises, and had far better toys than the old standby of pail and shovel. I think the twins stayed at this table for the majority of our stay. While they were occupied with creating their own beach, we managed to meet another couple with a little two-year-old girl who were visiting family at Muskrat Lake and proceeded to engage in parental comparisons on potty training, mannerisms, and developmental break-throughs.

After watching the girls fling sand, I was bored and wandered back to the area where they initially found the firefighters hats. I found two sombreros and put a black and gold one on one twin’s head. She forgot about the sand for a moment and ran around the area showing off her new hat. The other twin wanted one too, but the only one left was huge. It weighed close to her weight and was red and silver. I put it on her head carefully and she moved around stiffly – probably afraid she will tip over if she moved too fast. Another photo opportunity was captured – much to the delight of my Facebook pals – and we moved on to the bubbles section.

Toward the back of the museum, there was a table with soapy water in it. In the soapy water there were plastic tubes fused together in a circle with a handle. If you pull it up slowly from the water, a bubble will form. However, there was a trick to it. If you didn’t know how to pull the handle through the air just right to make the bubble close up and float in the air, the bubble you started would simply pop and send little ribbons of soapy water everywhere. I was not a fast student. The girls, the floor, and I were very soapy by the time I managed to get the knack of it. Even one twin had to be taken to the bathroom to have her eye flushed because she had so much soap in it and it was starting to sting.

The last stop was in a room by the back door where there was a box of clothing for dressing up, a mirror, and a picnic table for the parents to plop down on in exhaustion. The girls would bring me various pieces of clothes for me to put on them over their own clothes and I would dress them and make suggestions on various accessories to find. One twin had a broken tiara, a pair of fairy wings that was looking a little ratty, and a pink velvet princess skirt. The other twin had deer antlers, a bent wand, and a blue velvet princess skirt. The way they preened in front of the mirror and declared themselves “beautiful” and “princess[es]” was quite cute, and let me know just how easy Halloween will be for me this year.

Unlike the easy exit from our zoo trip, our exit from the museum was done quickly, but not very quietly. The girls were used to having a nap between 2:30 and 4pm. At 3:20, we had to depart because one twin started screaming, throwing herself on the floor in a tantrum, and generally making a scene. She ran out of steam and was in need of a nap. The other twin had always needed less sleep and wasn’t in the least bit affected by the lack of a nap. So, dragging and then carrying a screaming, kicking daughter and gently guiding one meek, quiet daughter out the back door, we left the museum.

The different experiences at our day trips allowed me to learn very important things about my children. They need space and freedom to explore for them to enjoy themselves and get the most of their experience. Just walking through looking at exhibits is definitely not for them at this age. Long drives are also a negative. While they mostly behaved on the long drive to the zoo, it was also because we were providing them with French fries. The shorter drive to the museum didn’t need that incentive. In addition, foregoing a nap to give them entertainment was not a good idea at all. They are still too young and active to go without the much-needed sleep. I’m used to pushing myself through 5 days a week on 4-5 hours of sleep, but children a couple of hours short of their normal 12 hours of sleep are unmanageable and cranky.

On the agenda for next summer, we will definitely plan time at the beach and we might see how they do at Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park one day. Of course, the latter will be dependent on how well they do at the fair rides this fall.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Excerpt from Book 3 of Atlantean Series I am Writing

This is an excerpt from Book 3 of an Atlantean series I am writing. Let me know what you think and if I need to do anything to clean it up. Have I got your attention and desire to read more? Feedback from an audience would be very welcome.

Clay awoke screaming Sapphira’s name. He choked off his scream and tried to take in his surroundings. He was still locked in the room at the Bahaman outpost. Sitting up, he rubbed his hands over his face, then grimaced and looked down at his left side. The wound broke open again and was bleeding freely. He lifted his shirt and placed a hand over the wound, then concentrated. It took several agonizing minutes before the skin stretched across the gap and began to knit itself together. His mind was so preoccupied with so many things, it made concentrating difficult. The blood loss from the lithodid damage was also taking its toll on Clay’s body. Without wanting to, his mind wondered back to the dream he had. His Sapphira was drugging herself to forget. To forget what they could have had and could have been to one another.

He cursed as blood coated his hand. He couldn’t concentrate long enough to finish his healing. A part of him was elated that she still cared for him so deeply after all of this time, but he also felt angry with her for risking her health. She could be poisoning herself. No wonder she can’t remember anything.

A sound at the door broke into his thoughts and his eyes quickly scanned the room to see if there was anything in there he could use to help him escape. His bed was an oval-shaped living coral with a rare species of jellyfish that served as a mattress. The two lived in a symbiotic relationship, each serving the needs of the other. The jellyfish, called a Stomolophus meleagris, provided the coral with food and moisture and the coral in turn gave food – in the form of its waste – and protection. The rest of the room was bare. The entire structure was made from bedrock.

The door opened to admit two Syrens. Their yellow eyes bore into him and hatred swamped his senses. He could barely tell if the hatred came from him or them. He tried to shield himself, but the hatred batted it away. They flanked him, but didn’t touch.

“Good morning,” he said conversationally. “Do I need to stand, or are we going to watch a movie together like this?”

The Syren to his right hissed at him and he shrugged. “You know, you really need to work on your communication skills,” he said with a disappointed sigh.

The Syren on his left backhanded him and he jerked back from the blow. Warmth flowed from his bottom lip and he put the back of his hand to his chin. It came away red with his blood. “Ok,” he slurred through his torn lip, “message received.”

“No, you haven’t really understood the message,” said a third Syren who came in through the door, “otherwise, you would remain silent and wait.”

Clay looked up at the Syren who entered and recognized him instantly. “Demiclasias,” he growled and spat blood at the Syren’s feet.

A sneer curled the split upper lip of the Syren before him. “I’ll have more than that from you before we are done.”

Slowly, Clay stood between the Syren’s flanking him and towered a good five inches over Demiclasias. “Before we are done,” he said in a silk-over-steel voice, “I will have equal amounts of blood from you.”

“Only if you can save yourself and your queen,” the Syren growled back. “And you are too weak for either.”

Clay stiffened. What did this creature plan to do with Sapphira? Did he have her too? How much should he cooperate to keep her from harm?

“Did you know,” Demiclasias began confidently, “that when Atlanteans are cast out they weaken? The Elixir of Life fails them and their gifts fade away.”

Clay thought about his difficulty healing and wondered if the problem extended to his concealment and shielding as well.

“It’s the outer world that does it,” Demiclasias continued. “So full of pollutants that is saps Atlanteans of their health and everything impinging on that health. It makes the humans weak, too, but they don’t know it. They’ll be very easy to defeat and control.”

A black brow lifted. Clay’s entire expression conveyed skepticism with an edge of dark humor. “I see you have developed some grand goals since your banishment. Does this mean you have given up on taking over Atlantis?”

“No, the world is my goal once I have made Atlantis my staging area,” Demiclasias said nonchalantly.

Clay laughed, causing a scowl to form on Demiclasias’ scaled face. “I’m surprised you would find humor in world domination,” he snarled

Clay grinned and shrugged. “No, I find humor in your strategy. If you wanted to rule the world, why would you pick the most difficult target first?”

Demiclasias snapped his sharp teeth and bared them in a fierce grin. “Atlantis would be easy to take.”

“You may outnumber Atlanteans, but you could never get past its shielding,” Clay said with a shrug. “And, if you managed to, the Elite guard and the Queen’s Select will easily defeat you. The Queen’s Select alone carry enough firepower to wipe your kind off the face of the earth.”

“Where is your Queen?” Demiclasias demanded suddenly.

The sudden change in subject nearly confused Clay into responding, but he caught himself. He schooled his features into contempt while he tried to determine how best to find out Demiclasias’ plan for her and if he may already have her and was just tormenting him with the questions. “She is still your Queen too, despite your banishment. It was her decree that banished you and it is her decree that continues to keep you banished.”

Demiclasias snarled and took two quick steps forward to strike at Clay, but one of the flanking Syrens stopped the killing blow, shaking his head while also looking dismayed at his action against his leader.

“We need him,” his protector growled.

Demiclasias struggled visibly with his anger, nearly turning it on his own officer. Clay recognized the weakness and inwardly smiled. He flexed, then rolled his shoulders back, repositioned his feet for a more stable stance that also gave him the ability to move in any direction and not lose balance, then smiled smugly at Demiclasias.

Scowling and growling in his throat, Demiclasias lifted his gaze to Clay and demanded, “Where is your Queen?”

Clay shrugged. “Ruling Atlantis, where else?”

“She is not there!” Demiclasias said. “I’ve looked!”

A snort came from Clay and he shook his head. “I’ve been outcast for fifty years. How should I know where she is?”

This stymied Demiclasias, whose jaw nearly dropped in his astonishment at the answer. “No, she had to have found you. It has been nearly a year.”

This nearly shattered Clay’s control. He wanted to shake the serpent until his teeth rattled out of his head. What did this creature do a year ago that made him believe Sapphira would look for him? Clay heard rumors before he was cast out that Demiclasias was increasing his power. Now Clay wondered if that meant his ranks or his mental abilities.

“You sent out a warning song when the lithodid took you,” Demiclasias added. “To whom?”

“It was a general call for help and a warning to others that a lithodid attacked,” Clay said. “I have been in touch with other outcasts and their descendants,” he added as a reminder.

Demiclasias began to pace, his features pinched in concentration. Clay watched him warily. He stopped pacing suddenly and looked at his flanking officers. “Bring him,” he commanded. “He must be moved today. I’ll have a plan for drawing her out of hiding by the time we arrive.”

The two guards gripped his arms and forced him out of the room. Clay desperately needed to get a message to the Elite Guard, but he knew his every move and song will be monitored. He hoped Merron kept Sapphira well away from this mess. Maybe she would be better off without a memory and living in the United State for a few more years. The Prexy practically ran things in Atlantis nowadays and time ran differently there. It’ll only be a couple of months to the Atlantean people.

Please take note that this is my own work from my own imagination. All characters are purely fictional and any resemblance in any way to anyone is merely coincidental. Any copying and redistribution of this material will also fall within copyright infringement.

Monday, August 1, 2011

22 Days remaining

August 23rd, the next book of the Alien Huntress novels by Gena Showalter will be released.